Girl On Fire’s Debut Album Is One Of 2013’s Best New Rock, Indie Records

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  That timeless adage obviously wasn’t what Seattle, Washington’s own Girl on Fire had in mind when it came up with the title to its debut record, Not Broken.  Regardless, it is still a fitting title for the band’s debut record.  That’s because there is nothing broken about this record.  As a matter of fact, for a first outing, Not Broken is a solid record from beginning to end.  And with the proper support from mainstream radio programmers, the band could very well be the next band to add its name to the already long list of famed bands from the city.

Not Broken is a fitting title for Girl on Fire’s debut full length album.  This is despite the fact that while the band obviously didn’t have a certain timeless adage in mind when its members were coming up with a title for the album.  Not Broken will grab listeners right from the album’s opener and lead single, ‘The Takedown.’  This song is an instant fan hit with its catchy guitar riffs and equally infectious defiant chorus of “We are not afraid to bleed/Awake the strength inside/Shadows come to life.”  It’s instantly easy to see the band playing this song to a packed arena, the crowd pumping its fists and singing in unison.  Any mainstream radio programmer that doesn’t give this single a chance is missing out.  Period.  Making the song even more radio friendly is the fact that front man Austin Held and his band mates—Nick Mahan (guitar), Nicholas Wiggins (guitar), Josh Mouser (bass), and Harry MacDonald (drums)—have crafted a song that could easily lead listeners to mistake it for Linkin Park.  The song’s official music video is available online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLCWhKV5avc&feature=youtu.be.    Held even sounds just like LP/STP front man Chester Bennington.  It’s eerie how closely similar the two singers sound.

The positive message and equally enjoyable musical side of ‘The Takedown’ doesn’t stop after the song ends.  The band keeps its energy and positivity flowing throughout the album.  This is evident in the song ‘Believe.’  The song starts off at a slow tempo with Held singing, ‘These scars/Have to be covered/Never discovered/From outside eyes/I’ve been running in circles/While losing my purpose/It’s hard to breath.”  The reason for the slower, more moody opener (and its corresponding moments) is to highlight the more uplifting sections of the song and make them more influential.  Held sings in those more uplifting moments, “And I will be strong/And I won’t hold on/To the darker side of me/When you fall/No one sings/Hide your pain/Underneath/Like the scars/They never fade/Something in you/No one can take/I believe/I believe/Let’s just believe.”  This is only a portion of the song.  But that same contrast of positivity winning out over the most negative of thoughts runs throughout the song.  It makes this one more song that every listener will both enjoy and appreciate.

‘The Takedown’ and ‘Believe’ are both excellent examples of the positive lyrical themes that populate Not Broken.  Those themes don’t end with these or other songs, either.  The album’s title track is just as powerful both musically and lyrically.  Held sings about having overcome the worst that life could handle as difficult as times might have been at one time or another.  He sings, ‘I’m not broken/I’m alive/I’ve been kicked down/But I’ll surive/Never give up/Never hide/I won’t go down without a fight/You can drag me down to the mat/You can rip my heart/Right out of my chest/I’m not broken/I’m not broken.  This kind of uplifting content is something that every listener can use at one time or another regardless of age.  That’s because even as adults, we all have people that will try to kick us down and then kick us again when we’re down.  Even through all of that, Held and company are telling listeners it is possible to have the inner strength and determination to not let such situations get us down.  This isn’t the type of thing that would only apply to younger listeners.  The gentle piano run that opens the verses set against the harder rocking chorus parts makes once again make for an excellent juxtaposition of emotions.  They expertly illustrate the two different emotions and especially highlight the possibility of  hope and personal determination.  This song, along with the previously mentioned songs (and those not mentioned) make Girl on Fire’s debut a contender to be both one of the year’s best rock records and one of the year’s best new independent albums, too.  Not Broken is available now.  It can be ordered online direct from the Century Media Records website at http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=512.  More information on this release, the band’s current tour in support of Not Broken and more from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/girlonfiremusic, http://www.girlonfiremusic.com, http://twitter.com/girlonfiremusic, http://www.myspace.com/girlonfiremusic, and http://www.purevolume.com/girlonfire.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

One Of Filter’s Best Records “Comes Out” In Its New LP

Courtesy:  Wind-Up Records

Courtesy: Wind-Up Records

Filter’s first new record in three years is a solid release for the band.  Having undergone numerous lineup changes and seemingly almost as many label changes, this new record is a testament to the band’s ability to keep going and making music.  So many lesser bands would have already folded long before.  But Filter has taken the road less travelled and crafted what is arguably one of its best records to date in The Sun Comes Out Tonight.  The record largely keeps the energy flowing from start to finish, holding back only a small handful of times.  The times that the band holds back are so spread out that even when they do make themselves known, it luckily doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the album’s songs.

The energy starts flowing right from the album’s opener, ‘We Hate It When You Get What You Want.’  This slightly techno-infused song will take long-time audiences back to the days of the band’s 1995 debut record, Short Bus all while sounding quite a bit like Linkin Park.  There are those that might consider such a comparison to be musical heresy of sorts.  But if one hadn’t known that this was Filter, it would have been rather easy to think it was the latter of the two.  This isn’t such a bad thing though.  The song’s energy and front man Richard Patrick leads the onslaught, while drummer Jeff Friedl, guitarist Jonathan Radtke and bassist Phil Buckman come together to make a song that is a proper opener.  The drive of the guitar and drums make this song an obvious hit both on the record and in a live setting.  It would be easy to see any live audience taking in the song, fists high in the air, voices raised, singing along together.  Being that this is the first impression for the band since its last release three years ago, it is an excellent first impression for the band in its return.

The album’s next song, ‘What Do You Say’ takes over at the end of the LP’s opener and keeps the energy flowing at top level.  And just as with the album’s opener, it’s just as certain to have live audiences singing along and pumping their fists along as Patrick sings, “Hey, hey what do you say/It doesn’t really matter/Cause it’s all the same/Hey, hey what do you say/They’re just gonna blame us anyway.”  Lyrically, this song comes across in a slightly cryptic manner.  The really good thing about it though is that it isn’t just one of so many countless songs about one’s relationship issues.  And the equally powerful hooks and choruses make the song even better and another sure bet to be a fan hit.

The energy kicked up by the album’s first pair of songs pulls back just slightly in its third song, ‘Surprise.’  That pullback is only momentary, as the energy kicks back into high gear in the album’s rather electronica infused semi-title track, ‘What The Sun Come Out Tonight.’  And it doesn’t let up from there until the band gets just past its halfway mark in ‘First You Break It.’  Again, that reduced presence is only temporary as the band once again sheds its softer sound in favor of something with more kick in ‘Burn It’ and ‘Take That Knife Out Of My Back.’  By the time listeners reach the album’s final pair of songs, which is definitely the album’s calmest, they will be left almost breathless thanks to the musical rollercoaster on which they have been taken over the course of the album’s previous ten songs. By the time the last notes of ‘It’s Just You’ fade away, listeners will know that they have just experienced one more album that is more than deserving of being added to the ever growing list of the year’s best rock records.

Audiences will have the chance to experience the music from this brand new album as Filter will be hitting the road beginning next Thursday, April 18th in support of it.  The band will perform at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, CO that day.  Filter’s North Carolina based fans will also get the chance to experience the band’s new music live as the band will make not one but two stops in North Carolina on its tour.  The first of the band’s NC dates will be at the Red Hat Amphitheatre in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, May 31st.  The band’s second NC date is scheduled for Sunday, June 2nd at the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Fans can get a full listing of tour dates from the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/Filter.  Fans can also go to the band’s Facebook page to pre-order the album, which is due out June 4th.

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Blaqk Audio’s New LP Is A “Bright” New Record

Courtesy: Superball Music

AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Puget have hit the switch yet again on the way back machine and taken audiences once more back to the heyday of the techno boom with the new Blaqk Audio record, “Bright Black Heaven.”  This album takes listeners even deeper into the electronic influences of both men with tracks the likes of ‘Faith Healer’, ‘Everybody’s Friends’, and ‘Bliss.’ 

‘Faith Healer’ is a blatant throwback to Depeche Mode.  Even the vocals are eerily similar to that of Depeche Mode’s front man Dave Gahan.  While it’s a blatant throwback to Depeche Mode, the keyboard parts actually throw in a more twenty-first century touch with their effects, bridging that generational gap and bringing the two together for what is the album’s first really catchy track.

‘Everybody’s Friends’ is another high point to “Bright Black Heaven.”   While the song is lyrically steeped in the standard topic of relationships, it’s the music that really stands out.  This song is an instant club hit.  It would have just as popular in the 80’s thanks to its keyboard work.  The real surprise of the song is that as catchy as it is, it would be interesting to hear a remix of this song.  A remix might actually be that much catchier.  Much the same could be said of ‘Bliss.’  But instead of mixing older techno and new, this song instead favors more of the newer sound, showing growth from the duo’s debut album, “Cex Cells.”  Hearing this track and comparing it to work from “Cex Cells” it would be no surprise to see this duo out on tour with the likes of Linkin Park or even collaborating with them at one point or another.

Speaking of touring, no dates are currently listed.  But fans can get all the latest tour dates when they come along by going online to http://www.blaqkaudio.com, http://www.facebook.com/blaqkaudio, http://twitter.com/realblaqkaudio, and http://www.youtube.com/blaqkaudioofficial.  The duo’s new album, “Bright Black Heaven” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/blaqk-audio/id258737071

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Linkin Park Proves It’s Quite Alive And Well On New LP

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records/Machine Shop Recordings

“Living Things” is the album for which Linkin Park’s fans have waited for so long.  The success behind this new record lies believe it or not in the band’s previous record, “A Thousand Suns.”  That record was met to mixed reaction from both fans and critics alike.  But to the band’s credit, while it may have been a gamble, the band should be commended for going out on a limb with that release and taking a chance.  In crafting that album, the band learned from it and used it in the creation of this album.  Where the band might have been uncertain of itself with “A Thousand Suns”, it’s obvious that it’s far surer of itself this time out.

“Living Things” kicks off with a familiar sound in ‘Lost in The Echo.’  This song will take long time fans back to the days of its 2000 debut, ‘Hybrid Theory.’  At the same time though, there is also more of ‘A Thousand Suns’ mixed in with this song, too, musically speaking.  The keyboards and electronics mixed in with Mike Shinoda’s rapping and Chester Bennington’s powerhouse vocals show just how far the band has come during the course of its career.  Set against the song’s story makes it that much more of a powerful opening.  Bennington plays a supporting role to Shinoda here as Shinoda writes, “Cause I was there saying…No/You can’t tell ‘em all now/I don’t back up/I don’t’ back down/I don’t fold up and I don’t bow/I don’t roll over/Don’t know how/I don’t care where the enemies are/Can’t be stopped/All I know/Go hard/Won’t forget how I got this far/For every time saying…”  The way Shinoda delivers these lines, there’s a certain energy that really captures the determination that he’s trying to get across.  And Bennington’s declaration that, “This time I finally let you go” adds to that energy.  It all comes together for a song that is a perfectly fitting re-introduction for the band.

Bennington shows that his vocal chops are as strong as ever in ‘Lost in The Echo.’  In the album’s lead single, ‘Burn It Down’, he shows that while he has powerhouse vocals, he also has quite the control of his instrument, too with the mix of gentility and power throughout this song.  Again, the mix of keyboards shows an influence from the band’s more recent release than anything earlier.  And yet again because of that, it shows how much the band has grown as a unit and how far it has come. 

Linkin Park has shown how much it has grown as a unit on this new record.  There’s also a sign of hope for fans of Fort Minor, too.  ‘Until It Breaks’ is a solid piece that’s reminiscent of Shinoda’s work on “A Thousand Suns.”  It’s also something that would easily fit into a new Fort Minor LP.  Add in production by legendary producer Rick Rubin, and fans get one more great addition to an already solid record.

Linkin Park has come a long way from the “musical gold rush of 2000.”  But with the release of this new record, the band has shown that while so many other bands have gone by the wayside since then, it is standing tall and proud.  And if this new record is any indication, Linkin Park still has plenty left to offer its fans.

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Linkin Park to take part in sustainable energy discussion

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Members of Linkin Park will take part in a discussion about the connection between social media, technology and sustainable energy next Monday, June 19th. The band will join members of Rio+Social, Mashable, 92nd Street Y, Ericsson, Energias de Portugal (EDP) and LiveAD for the discussion. They will be speaking in support of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy For All initiative. Along with speaking on the matter, the band will perform material from its new, upcoming album, “Living Things.” The peformance will be streamed live and presented by the Honda Civic Tour, powered by VSee. Fans can see the performance live at http://www.youtube.com/thewarnersound. Fans around the world can watch and take part in the Rio+Social online at http://www.rioplussocial.com begining at 3:30pm EST. When asked about participating in the event, bassist, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell said, “We believe today’s youth are global citizens and are better connected and informed than any previous generation.” He added, “Rio+Social is an historic opportunity allowing youth to participate in the global discussion about critical issues like sustainability in a way that has not been possible before.” More information on Rio+Social is available online at http://www.rioplussocial.com. Link Park fans can keep up with all the latest from the band online at http://www.linkinpark.com. To keep up with all the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it, or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can also keep up with all the latest at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.